Pere Lachaise is THE place to spend the afterlife with everyone dying to be interred with the likes of Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde. But that wasn't always the case. Historically the city of Paris had a tradition of burying loved-ones near homes, in overcrowded church yards and in the case of a criminal or plague victim…in mass unmarked graves.
In the effort of hygienic breakthroughs, Paris embraced the modern practice of keeping space that was occupied by the living, well, free from the remains of the dead. This took some getting used to as you can imagine, and when Pere Lachaise was opened, people were not exactly lining up to purchase plots so far away from the center of the city. They were understandably used to the convenience of being able to pause and pay respects to a lost relative on the way out to the back garden or out by the apple tree.
So a special trip by horse-drawn buggy or very long walk was not particularly temping to Parisians. It wasn’t until the famous remains of Moliere and La Fontaine were placed upon a scenic hill inside Pere Lachaise that locals took notice. Then when the tombs of real-life French Romeo and Juliette Heloise and Abelard were transferred to Pere Lachaise, the trend to be one of the Who’s Who buried behind the scenic walls of the Cemetere du L’est (Eastern cemetery) started to pick up momentum…and it hasn’t stopped yet.
However, even if you have a recognized name in the rest of the world and one the lips of fellow who’s who in the exclusive gated communities of the globe, you can’t get into Pere Lachaise to spend the afterlife no matter how much money you have—unless you meet one or both of two requirements.
To get a grave in Pere Lachaise you must be a) a Citizen of Paris and or b) die in Paris. So if you have your heart set on being buried near Sarah Bernhardt, make sure you travel to Paris if you’re feeling your life slip away. Then when you pass off this mortal coil, on your death certificate is a little check box that enables you to be buried within the prized walls of Pere Lachaise.
Apparently Kim Kardashian couldn’t reserve a spot inside Pere Lachaise unless she was at her and Kanye West’s Paris peid a tere when she died.
Rest in peace,